Save the Oceans: Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

David Attenborough's Blue Planet II brought to the attention of the public the terrible impact that human society is having on the world’s oceans and, in particular, the scourge of plastic  in our oceans. An estimated one million plastic bottles are sold every minute around the globe, with many ending up in the oceans and harming marine life and making their way into the food-chain and potentially harming people who eat seafood. Every year an estimated eight million tonnes of the material flows into the oceans. New technologies are emerging and bioplastics, derived from renewable biomass sources and often (but not always!) more easily biodegradable, are becoming more widely used in bottles, containers and food wrappers among other applications. A major issue, nonetheless, is represented by all the plastic items already produced as plastic is a long-lasting pollutant. For this reason, today's news that scientists have developed a mutant enzyme that breaks down PET plastic* sounds like a very promising step towards a planet without plastic pollution.

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* polyethylene terephthalate is plastic more commonly used for soft drink bottles.